Even when the character is up to no good, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Melissa Claire Egan has the unique ability to evoke empathy for Chelsea. Certainly, fans were not happy when Chelsea reverted to her grifter ways and broke Nick’s heart before she fled Genoa City. Yet instead of calling for torches and pitchforks, the audience, by and large, seems ready to let bygones be bygones. “A lot of it’s in the writing,” Egan said to Soaps In Depth. “Chelsea comes back with her tail between her legs. By episode two, she was apologizing to Nick. She wasn’t preening or being cocky over what she had done. She tried to explain that she had been feeling the walls close in, and when that happens, she flees.
“I’m just so lucky that fans have always been supportive of this character, even when she’s been bad,” she continued. “There was a time when she was at odds with Adam and didn’t tell him that [Connor] was his. Instead, she convinced Dylan that he was the father. That is a really messed-up thing to do, and that went on for months until Adam found out after the baby was born because of the whole eye situation. But fans loved that!”
One could argue that what fans really love is the complexity with which Egan imbues the role. “I’ve tried to bring a vulnerability to Chelsea, where when she’s doing something bad, it’s not a twirling of the mustache,” she offered. “I want people to see that she is really troubled by doing the bad things. I want to show her feeling guilty or vulnerable [so] it’s not just one-note.”
And the more flawed Chelsea has been, the more Egan has relished playing her. “I don’t want her to make bad choices any more than I would always want her to make good decisions,” she reflected. “But when she is making a bad decision, I want to show why. If you show all the elements that go into a decision, the character might be someone you can root for no matter what. Between my role on ALL MY CHILDREN [as Annie] and Chelsea on Y&R, I have played some very complex characters! It’s so much fun!”
Also fun — and complex — are Chelsea’s relationships with Nick and Adam, who have been vying for her time, attention and love ever since she waltzed back into town (and hubby Calvin bit the dust). “First off, I have to say, ‘Lucky me!’” laughed Egan. “I hit the jackpot working with these two awesome dudes! Not only are [Joshua Morrow and Mark Grossman] great actors, but they play great characters! I really think Chelsea is in love with both of them.”
That doesn’t mean she loves them both the same, though. “Chelsea and Nick have a very deep, profound relationship which… started as a friendship, and it grew into something really beautiful,” Egan insists. “Adam and Chelsea’s relationship also started as a friendship, but it became super-intense right away. With him, it’s fiery. And that has burned her before. She saw him die twice. She’s gotten hurt. Her life has been destroyed by being with this man over the years, even though there is love and passion there. But it’s a constant roller coaster. Are the lows worth those incredible highs? That’s the question!”
Finding the answer to that question is something Egan is eager to do. “Chelsea had moved on with her life. She was hoping to raise her son being happy, being grateful for Calvin and living a calm, peaceful life. But now all this stuff happened. Adam is alive, and Calvin died… her life got turned upside-down again!” she said, smiling. “I can’t wait for the next script to find out how she deals with it!”
For more on your favorite Y&R stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine